EDITORIAL: Mapping Out Marvel's PHASE 3 Movies
With the recent release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the MCU is well into Phase 2, and looking more exciting than ever. But who will make the cut for Phase 3? And what can we expect from the future of the MCU? Hit the jump to find out!
Hey guys. Firstly, this contain some SPOILERS for ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, so if you haven’t seen it, don’t read it. On the back of that film, I’ve decided to take a look at what the MCU has to offer over the coming years, looking at six possible films in detail. While always try to include the facts, a lot of this editorial piece is my speculation, particularly with the unannounced Marvel movies. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, it’s a big ‘un.
August – Guardians Of The Galaxy
May – The Avengers: Age Of Ultron
July – Ant-Man
May – Captain America 3
July – Doctor Strange
May – Thor 3
August – The Inhumans
(November – Black Panther)
May – Avengers 3
Release Date: July 17th, 2015
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast (So Far): Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Patrick Wilson, Michael Pena,
What’s The Buzz?
Edgar Wright’s ‘Ant-Man’ feels like it has been in production forever, but finally we’ll have a chance to see it come July 2015. Currently in pre-production, it’s due to start filming very soon, and casting is well underway. With Wright’s direction, a favourable release date, and two great leads in Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, this little film is about to make big bucks at the Box Office (pun very much intended).
Scott Lang Vs Hank Pym
Perhaps already causing controversy is the selection of Scott Lang to be the modern day central hero, potentially putting Hank Pym in a back seat role. I don’t see this happening. In casting Michael Douglas, Marvel have signed on an acting legend who will demand screen time, and not be overshadowed (much like Robert Redford in ‘The Winter Soldier’).
If anything, I believe Scott Lang’s selection is more suited to Edgar Wright’s strengths. Rudd is a fantastic comedic actor, and Wright is great with handling comedy (a lot like Jon Favreau was with ‘Iron Man’). Additionally, his sympathetic back-story with his daughter and more morally grey nature may resonate better with modern audiences, who like a flawed hero.
Ultimately this allows for a more interesting and unique story. It’ll be the first MCU movie with two heroes taking up the same mantle – making it different from the other movies. This is something ‘Ant-Man’ needs in order for it to succeed, as it does have a fairly ridiculous concept. For this reason, a light-hearted tone will be essential.
Evangeline Lilly is still apparently “in talks” for a role in the movie, which people are quietly confidant will be Janet Van Dyne – a character equally as important as Ant-Man, as she was the first female member of the original Avengers.
However, in order for The Wasp to join The Avengers in the MCU (and in my opinion, she should – it’s way too male dominated at the moment), she will not be able to marry Hank Pym like in the comics (unless… you know… she doesn’t mind the age difference…). There have been suggestions that instead The Wasp will be Pym’s daughter. I personally like this concept, as it gives her a connection to Pym, but also allows her to remain in the present - most likely as the current Ant-Man’s love interest, ‘Mask Of Zorro’ style.
Rounding Off The Cast…
As for the supporting cast, Patrick Wilson has notably been cast in an “important role” (his words) – which many people see as a young Hank Pym, allowing the potential for flashbacks to the 60s (maybe even with Howard Stark – tying in with the Iron Man and Captain America franchises nicely). The ever-consistent Michael Pena has been cast in a unknown role, while Corey Stoll (who was great in ‘Midnight In Paris’) and Matt Gerald (aka White Power Dave from ‘All Hail The King’) have also been rumoured for villains.
Altogether that looks a very strong cast, with even more announcements possibly on the way. I have very little knowledge about Ant-Man villains, but from the research I’ve done most of them seem ridiculous – something Edgar Wright will love adapting, I’m sure. Personally I’d like the idea of potentially incorporating AIM or HYDRA into the story at some point, to tie Ant-Man in with the MCU a little more before he joins The Avengers.
CAPTAIN AMERICA 3
Release Date: May 6th, 2016
Director(s): The Russo Bros.
Cast (So Far): Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Sebastian Stan, Frank Grillo (dead certs). Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders (likely). Jeremy Renner, Thomas Kretschmann (possibly)
What’s The Buzz?
The big thing everyone’s talking about at the moment is the potential showdown between Cap and ‘Batman Vs Superman’ in May 2016. ‘The Winter Soldier’ has been a big success, both commercially and critically, and the retention of the Russo Bros in the directors’ chair is very good to hear. I thought it was a bit of a dick move from WB to pick a fight with a Marvel film (at the same time it was running away from another one), but there is unfortunately only one winner here, and it’s not the Captain.
Ideally, Feige notices the second film’s success in April, and moves this release a month forward. This should give them a free run at the Box Office before Bats and Supes steamroll in, while also having the advantage of being the first CBM released that summer.
What Do We Know About The Movie?
The events of ‘The Winter Soldier’ changed the MCU to it’s core. The heroes no longer have their all important ‘safety net’ in SHIELD, while Cap & Falcon are out of the spotlight, Black Widow has seemingly disappeared again, and Bucky’s been set loose upon the world. The events of ‘Age Of Ultron’ is likely to change things even more for the characters (especially if Widow dies), but they’ll all likely be back, and joined by a few new and old MCU characters too.
What’s The Plot?
There have been a lot of suggestions that the Russo’s will adapt The Death Of Captain America arc. This plays well with the involvement of the Winter Soldier, as well as likely returns for Emily VanCamp as Agent 13 and Frank Grillo as Crossbones (who in the comics, deliver the killer blows), but does go against Chris Evans’ now infamous 6-film contract.
The other factor this relies upon is the return of the Red Skull, who was of course the architect of the events in that arc. Though I agree Cap’s arch-nemesis should return, it is unlikely to be Hugo Weaving who portrays him. Additionally, there have been calls to have Baron Zemo in the movie, someone who’s role will be diminished greatly if the Red Skull is in it too. Personally, I feel the Red Skull should be the main villain, revealing himself towards the end, while Thomas Kretschamann’s Baron Von Strucker should play a Zemo-esque role as Cap’s enemy for most of the film, with Crossbones of course causing trouble too.
Another major question is the involvement of SHIELD, or former SHIELD agents in this movie. Many people would like to see Nick Fury and Maria Hill return, and potentially even Phil Coulson and his rabble of TV misfits to make an appearance. I feel that the threat of HYDRA should be finally eliminated here, with the defeat of Von Strucker - after being a constant threat in ‘Age Of Ultron’ and ‘Agents Of SHIELD’ over the two years leading up to the movie.
One character I would love to see return in this movie would be Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye (again providing he doesn’t die), who has had very little to do so far in the MCU. I feel he’d team up well with Cap, Falcon and Agent 13, while Widow would be able to team up with The Winter Soldier as part of a separate storyline, before they all converge for the final fight against the Red Skull.
What’s The Buzz?
This is Kevin Feige’s passion project, and one that’s almost guaranteed to be a part of the MCU in the coming years. Already there have been hints and Easter Eggs laid down to suggest the Doctor’s impending arrival. The most notable hint was Sitwell’s name drop in last month’s ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, which suggests by now Stephen Strange has already begun his journey towards becoming the Sorcerer Supreme.
Ideally, this film will start off a whole new ‘mystical’ corner of the MCU, while also tying in with its rapidly developing ‘cosmic’ side (perhaps through a connection to Thor). Strange’s origin has elements of ‘Batman Begins’ (East Asian roots and training etc), which Marvel could take inspiration from, all the while embracing the fantastical side of the Sorcerer Supreme as well. Though this is a little left-of-field, I think Marvel should also have a look at 2010’s ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, which, although goofy and often poorly scripted, was still entertaining, and portrayed magic in the modern world in a successful and inventive way.
Baron Mordo is the obvious villain to include in this movie, as Strange’s personal magical rival. It is unlikely he is able to sustain the movie’s threat on his own, and I feel he may be more suited towards an anti-villain type role, not unlike Loki in ‘Thor: The Dark World’, while a character like Nightmare, or even the fan-favourite Dormammu, could provide the central threat.
I would personally love to see Elizabeth Olsen reprise her role as Scarlet Witch in this movie – in a similar role to Black Widow’s in the recent Captain America sequel. The similarity between the two character’s abilities makes this connection feasible, while it also ties in Doctor Strange to the MCU and gives him a route towards the Avengers.
Casting & Release
If Marvel follow their ‘one franchise, one new’ model they are implementing in this year and in 2015, then there is good cause to believe that a Doctor Strange movie will take the currently unoccupied July Marvel release date for 2016. Recently a shortlist of potential directors was released, with ‘50/50’ director Jonathon Levine’s name standing out for me in particular. Another option would be Nikolaj Arcel, whose film ‘A Royal Affair’ comes highly praised by critics, and could also potentially tempt the excellent Mads Mikkelsen into joining the movie (most likely as a villain).
There have been suggestions that Strange will take the place of Downey Jr’s Iron Man in the MCU, becoming the central character from which to build upon. If this is the case, then the actor must have sufficient charisma and screen presence. While the idea of someone like Corey Stoll as the Sorcerer Supreme appeals to me, he lacks the star power to follow on from Downey Jr. Instead, Marvel should look no further than another Sherlock Holmes: Bennedict Cumberbatch, who’s now free from the Hobbit franchise, and recently had a tour at Marvel Studios a little while back…
What’s The Buzz?
Other than Captain America 3, this appears to be the most nailed on certainty for Phase 3, following ‘The Dark World’s’ fairly impressive Box Office performance. Chris Hemsworth has almost perfected the role, while Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is arguably the most popular character in the MCU with audiences after Downey Jr’s Iron Man.
The main issue with the Thor franchise is ‘where to go now?’. With some of the more established stars like Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman growing tired of the franchise, and a fairly weak villain story in ‘The Dark World’, Marvel may struggle again to churn out a good plot. I’m already having nightmares about Darcy’s sidekick getting his own sidekick for Thor 3 – and with it, eating up even more precious screen time that really ought to go to characters that don’t make me want to gouge my eyes out.
Obviously the events of ‘Age Of Ultron’ will impact Thor in a very big way. In my opinion, the way to create out the best kind of film here would be to have Ultron kill the Norse God in 2015’s ‘Age Of Ultron’ (how big a blow that would be!), leaving him in Hel long enough for audiences to miss him – before Thor’s buddies in Asgard (who so far have been really short-changed for screen time) stage an audacious plot to rescue him.
Meanwhile, Loki’s reign of terror under the guise of Odin will continue, causing problems for Thor following his inevitable return. He possibly could also have some new allies in the form of The Enchantress and The Executioner, whom fans seem very keen on appearing.
However the real big bad ought to be Surtur, whose domain, Muspelheim, was hinted at in an Easter Egg in Thor: The Dark World. Enchantress could even back-stab Loki for Surtur, revealing her true allegiance, and forcing Loki to team up with Thor again. A nice touch would be if Odin dies in this film (assuming he’s not dead already), he does so watching his two sons fighting together, side-by-side, for Asgard.
Aside from cutting the time spent on Earth in favour of the other realms, the most important thing Thor 3 needs to do is to tie Marvel’s cosmic universe together - and specifically establish a connection with Thanos. How this will be done I don’t know, but I don’t envy the Thor 3 writers much on this one!
Casting & Release
Recently I was watching old episodes of ‘Veronica Mars’, and Amanda Seyfried’s beguiling performance on that show suggests that she could be a very good Amora. Elsewhere, more time should be focused on the likes of Idris Elba’s Heimdall and Jamie Alexander’s Sif, rather than bringing in too many new characters. In these actors they already have the star power, as well as a lot of great storytelling potential.
An important issue here is hiring a new director, following yet another departure in the form of Alan Taylor. Some would suggest going back to Kenneth Brannagh, who did a fine job on the first movie. Personally though, I’d like someone with more visual style, in order to portray the cosmic side of things a lot better. My suggestion would be someone like Rian Johnson or potentially even Duncan Jones.
I would expect Thor 3 to take the May 2017 slot Marvel has already booked. This appears to be the money-maker slot for CBMs (see ‘Iron Man 3’, ‘The Winter Soldier’), and Marvel would do well to use their franchise movies here to maximise Box Office potential.
What’s The Buzz?
Another project Feige seems quite excited about - Marvel’s interest in these characters was announced as far back as 2012, along with Doctor Strange and the Guardians Of The Galaxy (the latter of which we’ll see this year!). Just like with the Guardians, Marvel have shifted focus towards the Inhumans in their comics, possibly in the run-up to announcing a movie?
This film would obviously open a great number of doors, and connect well with the cosmic universe Marvel is building with ‘Thor’, ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ and seemingly even ‘Agents Of Shield’.
One idea people seem keen upon is the idea that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are Inhumans, and their powers originate from the Terrigan Mists (to make up for the no-mutants rule). This would fit together quite nicely, giving the Inhumans greater importance.
Traditionally, the comics focus on the Inhuman royal family (led by the imposing Black Bolt). While interesting, they’re unlikely to be able to tie-in well on their own to the Avengers. I’m not sure this is the angle I’d like Marvel to focus on. Though I may be alone in this, I would prefer to see an outsider’s view when they meet the Inhumans (like Johnny Storm & co in the ‘Ultimate Fantastic Four’ arc).
That person for me would be Carol Danvers. Hear me out. She would be a (former) SHIELD or SWORD agent, focusing on the cosmos, following the Chitauri invasion of New York (and maybe working with the likes of Jane Foster). Her work will see her cross paths with the Kree (who have seemingly appeared in ‘Agents Of SHIELD’, and will definitely appear in ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’), and ultimately become Ms Marvel.
Notably, the Inhumans can also trace their origins back to Kree experimentation – giving the two stories a strong connection. This would create a movie for Ms Marvel and the Inhumans – both of whom may have struggled to carry their own movie alone. And it also has a character in Ms Marvel who can then go on to join the Avengers in 2018.
One thing I’d love to see here is a cameo role for the Guardians Of The Galaxy (perhaps at the end). Ultimately though, this cosmic Phase 3 slot could just go to a Guardians sequel if the first movie is a rampant success at the box office. However, as it is the first movie of a franchise, this is unlikely to happen.
Casting & Release
In terms of casting, this film is much harder to call. Katee Sackhoff is a sci-fi fan favourite, but some see her as perhaps a little too old to play the role. Margot Robbie is an interesting one, as an up and coming star with plenty of potential, she’d be an good Ms Marvel in my eyes.
Meanwhile, Vin Diesel has strongly suggested he’ll be playing another character in the MCU. With the Vision already cast, it has become even more likely that he could be playing the Black Bolt (he has the imposing physical nature too).
Ultimately there will be one heavily cosmic MCU movie in Phase 3 – and I can see it taking the other 2017 slot as Marvel’s last movie before Avengers 3. Just like Guardians later this year, I can see an August release date for the Inhumans movie if it gets the green light.
What’s The Buzz?
This is starting to look like the MCU movie we may never get to see (at least not for a while). Based on the ideas above, Phase 3 would see four new characters join the Avengers line up for the climatic third chapter: Ant-Man, Wasp, Doctor Strange and Ms Marvel. Combine them with a likely Guardians Of The Galaxy appearance and the original Avengers and you have a very packed film already. There is almost certainly no room for another hero to join the ranks.
This is a shame, as Marvel do need a non-white led solo film, the same way they really do need a female led one as well. However, the Black Panther mythos is hardly the most well known, and you have to question whether it will catch on well with the public (although you could have said the same for Thor).
From my limited knowledge of the Black Panther, a film would likely see his inheritance of the mantle from his father, T’Chaka, and focus heavily on the country of Wakanda. A lot of people have noted the potential for a ‘Game Of Thrones’ inspired power struggle to be a key theme in the movie, with T’Challa coming up against a major rival in his own brother, M’Baku.
Another interesting villain could come in the form of Ulysses Klaw – who would be a Western outsider, trying to capitalise on Wakanda’s civil strife and grow rich on its vast vibranium reserves (not unlike some Western countries with African nations in the past). Klaw also has ties to AIM in the comics, offering a way to tie Black Panther towards Iron Man and maybe Ant-Man too.
Casting & Release
If I were to cast the role of an older, more battle worn Black Panther, I’d look no further than Chiwatel Ejiofor – the magnificent actor whose recent turn in ’12 Years A Slave’ has brought him widespread praise. For a younger Black Panther however, Chadwick Boseman appears to be the fan favourite, and a talented actor whose star is clearly on the rise.
Ultimately though I do not think we’ll be getting a Black Panther movie in Phase 3. If, by some happy miracle, it were to happen, I would imagine one of the other films above will have to be sacrificed. There is a small chance of Marvel slotting it in for a late November 2017 release - making 2017 the first year with three MCU movies (a step I’m Feige has been thinking about taking recently), but that is very optimistic.
Well I hope you enjoyed my theories and suggestions. Originally I was going to cover The Avengers 3, and Marvel’s TV projects such as ‘The Defenders’ and ‘Agents Of SHIELD’, but those are conversations for another day. One thing is for certain though, however Phase 3 ties it all together, the third Avengers film will be truly amazing – and will likely be the highlight in this ‘golden age’ of CBMs we find ourselves in. Feige, Whedon and the rest of the people behind the MCU have done a magnificent job, and long may it continue.
So yeah, till next time guys. Comment below if you’ve got any thoughts on the subject. Or you just wanna have a go at me. That’s fine too.
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